7 Desserts From The 1950s We're Really Not Too Sure About

Delicious desserts like Baked Alaska, Chiffon pies, and Coconut Cream Cake came from the 1950s. But that era also produced bizarre desserts — like an abundance of Jell-O molds and concoctions made of incongruous ingredients that didn't resemble anything edible. In a world of cocktails, cakes, and meatloaf, how did perplexing dishes like tomato soup cake or Jell-O and sour cream combos take shape? Good riddance!

Women in the 1950s were either ostracized working women or stay-at-home mothers. Lacking our modern and efficient appliances, homemakers had constant work. Convenience became king. Due to this mindset, food in the 1950s was about elevating canned or boxed ingredients. Although women who used canned ingredients were considered lazy or inadequate, the popularity of brands like Jell-O, Hellmann's, and Campbell's provided a new outlook on cooking. The era of Jell-O salads and fruit cakes came from the busy minds of housewives needing a quick way to combine and create wholesome dishes daily. Sometimes, this resulted in questionable recipes. Let's take a look at these seven 1950s desserts that we're not entirely confident we'd eat.

1. Campbell's Applesauce Spice Shortcake with Foamy Sauce

Found in a 1951's Campbell's Soup cookbook, this spiced cake made with tomato soup is not completely unappetizing. Perhaps its oddness comes down to combining ingredients like cinnamon and nutmeg with tomato. Layered applesauce between rounds of spice cake seems totally doable. But mixing the batter with tomato soup is where we put our foot down! We want tomato soup with grilled cheese. We understand soup in a casserole. Soup even makes sense with a bunch of veggies and meat thrown in gumbo style. But why would soup go in a dessert?

While Campbell's tomato soup cake has a long history dating back to the 1920s, the brand uses the unappealing words "foamy sauce" in a way that makes everything else about this dish seem totally normal. There are some renditions that don't use the applesauce or foamy sauce — which is a frothy blend of powdered sugar, whipped cream, a separated egg, and lemon juice. Either way, with a confusing twist on a classic cake, this dessert is one we just aren't brave enough to try.

2. Jell-O Salads

Ah, the beloved Jell-O salad. We know it was popular, and we even get it. Kind of. Jell-O was, and remains, inexpensive and relatively easy to prepare. Yet we wonder why the '50s were so obsessed with this molded dessert. It became a staple of the decade, requiring a coveted refrigerator to set the dish. Even far back in history, gelatin-based dishes were a sign of opulence because they took time and a chilling system to prepare (via SeriousEats). When the Jell-O brand emerged, instant gelatin changed how these elite meals were made.

But who knew there were so many things you could toss in your gelatin and deem ready to eat? From fruits to nuts to veggies encased and formed into rings or braids, there was no shortage of creativity when it came to this dessert. While some Jell-O salads are bearable and still eaten among potlucks and holiday dinners today, there are so many that probably should've never been created. Our fave odd ones include a coffee Jell-O salad made with raspberry gelatin, strong coffee, and topped with whipped cream; a truly baffling ocean-themed salad using lime Jell-O and pear halves, complete with cream cheese and cinnamon; and this Christmas-y lime Jell-O salad involving cottage cheese, pineapple, pimento, and walnuts.

3. Frozen Yule Log

There's honestly no way we can vibe with this dessert. The mobs that decided pineapple doesn't belong with pizza should have redirected their efforts to this monstrosity because whoever thought of mayonnaise and pineapple should be reprimanded. Log shape aside, this dessert was messing up long before it was frozen in form. As part of a 1950s advertisement launched for Kraft Miracle Whip and Dole canned pineapple, the Frozen Yule Log was pitched as a dessert you were certain to love.

If this dessert is meant to be delicious, then we're fairly uncertain about everything we've learned about culinary arts. The dessert starts with a mixture of Miracle Whip, syrup from the canned pineapples, maraschino cherries, slivered almonds, honey, and whipped cream. Then you put the mixture into a large coffee can, alternating between the mix and layers of Dole's canned pineapple rings. Finally, you cover it with plastic wrap and freeze. When you're able to dislodge the tube from the coffee can — they suggest cutting the bottom of the can and basically shoving it out of the handmade mold — you have a delectable frozen dessert log to dine on with your dinner guests. Right? Yeah, we're not certain we love this at all.

4. Del Monte Peach Candle Salad

Candle salads were all the rage in the 1950s. It's not something we thought we'd be saying either. Still, there were a lot of variations of this dessert. All of these desserts involved some sort of fruit — either with a hole cut out to resemble a candle or put together in a shape that seemed candle-like — and placed on a bed of lettuce. Remember, it's a salad. Once again, the use of imagination in the kitchen was in full force — meaning a lot of questionable architecture went into achieving the luminescent look.

Del Monte's version includes several little molds of gelatin mixed with cottage cheese, milk, and sugar and topping the mounds with canned peach halves. Assembled in a circle and finished with cranberry sauce around each "candle, this dessert looks as weird as it sounds. A simpler version, which debuted in the 1920s but gained more popularity in the 50s, required only the intricate construction of a banana standing up in a pineapple ring and topped with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry. Picture it and you'll understand why we're not missing this dessert.

Then there was Hellmann's grand rendition that debuted in the '60s — a little late to the party but nevertheless determined to join in the candle-making fun. In a team effort with Ocean Spray, their version used mayonnaise, cranberry sauce, and orange-flavored gelatin to create a surprisingly realistic candle dessert.

5. Ambrosia salad

In the 1950s' spirit of salad as dessert, ambrosia salad fits the mold. (Another gelatin joke?) Fret not, this dessert is not made with jello. Dreamt up in a terrible fever dream, ambrosia salad is a play on fruit salad — except it combines marshmallows and sour cream. We wish we were kidding. Other variations of this dessert call for marshmallows and cottage cheese. In any case, the marshmallows are going to have a weird partner. This fruity, gooey, sour-tinged dessert has us full of questions.

But ambrosia salad also incorporates ingredients we can easily stomach like shredded coconut, orange pieces, pineapple, banana, or maraschino cherries. It wouldn't be surprising if the fruits were canned, especially as canned foods were in the pantries of many '50s kitchens. While nowadays frozen fruit is considered healthier, canned fruit remains popular. Simple enough to prepare, ambrosia salad contains whatever fruit combo of your choosing with marshmallows and sour cream mixed together. If you can ignore the unappetizing duo that makes up its base, then you're ready to chow down on this perfect after-dinner dessert. Yikes!

6. Fruit cocktail desserts

With its extreme versatility, fruit cocktail was a quintessential '50s dish. Equal parts appetizer, dessert, and topping, fruit cocktail was used for various recipes. From being stuffed into jello molds to sitting pretty on top of sliced ham, it was an easy way to add some color and fruity flavor to any dish. To make a dessert fit for the '50s, make any sweet treat and add a can of fruit cocktail. On it, in it, around it — all of the above! Today, it's a simpler blend of fruits usually served as a breakfast side dish, but back then it was amplified to its max.

Wild combinations started to pop up as canned fruits became increasingly popular. There was the fruit cocktail coffee cake advertised by Del Monte, which featured a coffee cake ring buried in Del Monte's canned fruit cocktail, a classic blend of grapes, pears, pineapple, peaches, and cherries. Also not to be forgotten, though we wish we could, were gelatin-molded fruit Bavarian cakes. This dessert involved a mixture of Bavarian cream and canned fruit cocktails molded into a jiggly cake. Even if the separate parts of this recipe seem harmless, the whole seems sickly sweet with a peculiar texture. We'd rather stick with the pre-dinner cocktails than any of these fruit cocktail desserts.

7. Marshmallow Chill

From the realm of marshmallow desserts comes the dream combo of lime, celery, sour cream, and cottage cheese. Is it a dessert or an appetizer? Another bizarre salad? No matter what Marshmallow Chill poses as, its sweet flavors like marshmallows and lime classify it as a treat... And one we'd rather skip. With a crunch from the celery and a curiously creamy blend of sour cream and cottage cheese, we can't see where the appeal is. Other than pure convenience, this dish is a disaster.

Found in a 1955 Knudsen cookbook, the recipe calls for all five ingredients to be combined, placed into a mold, and chilled until it's set. RetroRuth of Midcentury Menu performed a test on Marshmallow Chill, noting how it was fine enough until you got a bite of celery. Then, it became pretty much inedible, with not even the marshmallow to disguise the flavors. Instead, they thought the marshmallow hardly affected the overall taste.

Staying true to the cuisine of the '50s, where you used color themes for your jello dishes rather than logic, this dessert is a creamy green. It's like the magic of 1950s-style desserts comes from tricking the eyes into thinking the flavors go together. Still, unless it's green eggs and ham, we really don't want a jiggly green dish.